Last February, Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) President Dana White vowed his company would begin conducting stringent tests to ensure athletes on its roster undergoing the controversial treatment known as testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) weren't gaining an unfair performance-enhancing advantage.
Since that time, however, the mixed martial arts (MMA) world has watched as two UFC fighters with therapeutic use exemptions (TUE) for TRT have failed post-fight drug tests due to elevated levels of testosterone. Ben Rothwell was the first back in August at UFC 164. Earlier this month, Antonio Silva became the second after putting on an instant classic against Mark Hunt in the main event of UFC Fight Night 33.
According to White, this pair of test failures from TRT recipients in 2013 isn't indicative of UFC dropping the ball during its screening process.
"I told you we test the shit out of these guys that are doing TRT," White said during this week's pre-UFC 168 media scrum (watch it). "We gave [Bigfoot] his last test the week of the fight. He was perfect. He took another shot, which put him over."
To hear White tell it, whatever benefit "Bigfoot" received from taking an additional shot of testosterone after his last UFC-conducted screening was negligible at best.
"What [testosterone] really does is help you during your training," White explained. "While you're training it helps you heal faster and all this other stuff. Taking that extra shot the week of the fight just puts your levels through the roof and doesn't really give you an extra [benefit]. If [Bigfoot] didn't take that shot, [he and Hunt] would have had the same fight probably."
Despite whatever performance-enhancing effects Silva's last minute dose of testosterone may or may not have provided him with, the disastrous impact it had on his career is clear, according to White.
"It destroyed everything," the UFC President opined. "Now [Bigfoot doesn't] get the win money -- we were giving both guys show and win money -- and [he] won the bonus. Now [he] lost both [his] win money and [his] bonus money. Ouch."
From there White used the opportunity to extend a warning to other UFC fighters who are on TRT:
"So all you guys out there that are on TRT, and it's legal, you wanna fuck around and take that shot after you've been tested? There's the consequences. The consequences could not be worse. Now you're on suspension for a year, you lost your win and your bonus money, and I'm sure your sponsors aren't thrilled either."
Does White think the cautionary tale provided by Bigfoot's test failure will keep other fighters on TRT from taking last-minute doses of testosterone in the future?
"If you have a quarter of a brain, it should," White bluntly said.
However, don't expect White's obvious displeasure with the Bigfoot situation to lead to UFC disallowing its fighters to receive TUEs for TRT.
"We're always going to do what the athletic commission does," White explained. "Do you think it's great for me that [Bigfoot failed his test]? I told you guys how much I loved that fight, and how into that fight I was. Now it ruins it for me."
For a comprehensive look at more fights this year that were possibly ruined for the UFC president by drug test failures, click here.